Thursday, March 24, 2011

from Heroic Age


Spring’s shoulder stayed winter.  Her feet were yams.  When she curves her back for a rake, you want to jump on it and relax, smoke a cigarette and watch the sun for the first time in dark months of rooms.  Her feet are yams, ankles held together by vines.  She wears a black scarf, black skirt and black cardigan over a black blouse.  On her legs gray lintballs climb beneath her skirt.  Midwife to the soil, she’s dressed for the Grand Closing.  You want to hug her but you don’t.  She’ll turn oak post, steel beam, concrete pillar.  The transition will be unbearable.  There's work to be done.


It was an automobile.  A steel trap.  A contusion on a sharp left.  They brought it home, put it in the bathroom in a box on a bed of hay.  She refused to go to school.  Leave the house.  She slept under the sink.  Her friends forgot her.  Her notebook forgot to tell her.  Forgot to explain it all.  To remind her.  She brought gifts, carrots and lettuce, cabbage and a bowl of water.  One morning next week, nothing but the hay.  It escaped, they said, right through the open door; back with its family now.  In the evening her mother added salt above the boiling pot.  When ready, she cut the flame and drifted upstairs.  He stuck a fork in it.  She sat on her hands at the table.  Herod said: “Eat it."


Don’t tell Papa, she pleaded.  But Papa was told.  He gathered the linens, bleach and a washtub from the basement.  She stuck her hands in the tub.   The linens whipped up a whirlpool; grabbed her wrists.  They tried to pull her in and drag her to the bottom.  She struggled to rescue her bloody hands.  Something was drowning in there.  Something small, a bird’s heart, a song.  Later, her mother hung the line.  She wrote in her notebook: I’m a woman now.


It keeled over in its own dung.  She gathered it up, held it to her breast beneath her coat.  People wanted to know why her heart appeared to have grown.  On the bus they snatched glances, whispered to their partners, snickered at the back.  She stepped off and walked through the city unseen.  When the vet had a look, he told her to roast it.


I came to kill, to give birth.  I came to wipe things clean.  I came to purify.  You’ll know me by the shine on my boots, the sparkle at the ends of my fingertips.  By the breadth of my wings, the cut of my suit.  When I speak, even the deaf have to pretend to be listening.  Even the dead, the unborn.  When I speak, love hurts like it's supposed to.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

from Epoch of Heroes

His mother became a carpenter, his sister a bricklayer. His father drank time, and his brother sat against the trunk of an oak. One bird pecked at his brother’s eyes, another fought off an interloper, while another was happy with a worm. His mother built three chairs and his sister built a mausoleum. They sat inside together waiting for the door to close. After a while they stopped breathing, but even that didn’t help.

She stopped tending to the chickens, keeping the goat out of the garden. She stopped feeding the dog. She lived in the well like a lost frog. When it rained she felt better, like a lost frog. Men came to replace the men who left with grumbling machines and the language of prisons. She was a frog in a well. They buzzed against the walls of her mind like flies in a glass room. When they landed to rest, she sent her frog tongue to greet them. The flies left flying captured her and put her on a train. She felt like a frog on a train. Others cried out, but she was silent as a hitchhiker. As a hitchhiker frog on a train.

He’s in the yard with his shirt off and a towel over his knee. He shaves from a bucket of cold water. Snowflakes melt on the surface. All the kitchen windows face his way; all the kitchen sinks are full of admiration for what he’s done. All the kitchen eyes have their eyes on him. He molts in broad daylight. Only the mirror refuses to see him. It hangs from a crooked wire with a chip on its shoulder. The attention’s warm as an incubator bulb. He’s the oldest egg in town.

She gave them all names. They gave her a name in turn. She set the sun on fire when she emerged. The clouds rushed away. All the trees waving blue flags abandoned her. She heard their cries of joy. Joy in their cries. The men that arrived didn’t kill themselves. There was only sound. Each face was like the other. Each hand had five fingers. The arms were like snakes; they hissed and tightened their grip. She could smell last year’s apples fermenting in the grass. She didn’t feel a thing and then woke up. She called out their names, the new ones the men left behind.

She married a spoon. A ladle. A hammer and a nail. They lived a honeymoon in a tool box. There was a slight breeze off the sheet-metal. SS Bliss was sailing in. It was sailing out. It had yet to make port. It had radioed the master. Preparations for boarding were underway. She spooned out helpings of love like ice-scream. He hammered it melting to the dock. Once aboard, she ladled tears for soup. The waves upset the bowls, clogging all the bulk-heads. He got fat and couldn’t swim ashore. She said the toolbox was dragging her down. By the time they jumped ship, they went straight to the bottom.

Ghosts return to the woodwork. The house is a site to visit. A notebook fills in the gaps. She takes a trolley to the edge of town, takes a bus to the last stop. She walks through the village with her head down. Even the bed-ridden know she’s there. Even the rafters, the floorboards. A sign: the name of the village, a black X over it. She rests in the tall grass at the edge of a wheat-field. The next page has a man and his son in a wagonload of carcass. Flies conduct a seminar. They talk of the children. It’s because of the children. For the children, they will fly to kingdom come. She draws a crooked blue line from edge to edge. On one side, he stands with a rifle. On the other she stands with a spoon. A battle is about to commence. She lets the wagon take her along the blue line. Hooves like hail hitting the roof; the iron roof on fire pouring down on the flesh of its guests. The house is a site to dig in. The house is a yardstick. The gaps remain gaps. She returns to the woodwork of the page.

The goat has spoken. The chicken is going down with his brethren. Trucks line up in the darkness. A string of red lights, sawdust flies and a sound like ammonia. The numbers are in the numbers. One driver leans against the cab, a cigarette in is hand. He puffs and puffs like a little chicken factory. A processing plant. He wants the men and women inside to speed up the dirty work. He can’t wait to get on the road, to be between places. Every time he stops he needs a shrink. Stopping is bull’s-eye. The goat told him that; and looking around, he trusts the goat.

He was from a country without a past. He invented it anew every morning. He signed peace treaties in the afternoon. By nightfall he was lurking in wardrobe. His code was Xeroxed and passed down. His agents memorized the juice, defecated the pulp. Hard as we thought, we could do nothing to outwit his ops. He was on the lookout for holy mushrooms in the sauce, dark patches of slander amid the veggies. An evil eye tiptoeing behind a lid. He triple-locked all his locks, spent his evenings cleaning the barrel. You could smell the lube in the pit of your stomach. Tomorrow a new flag will go up the pole. You have to be a well-oiled machine; you have to purr to survive.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I think Lazarus should have stayed dead.
Mary Magdalene should have thrown the rocks.
Judas wasn’t a scoundrel, I mean, his buddy
Knew he would do it, could have stopped him
Had he wanted to, hell, he would have done
The same thing if the roles were reversed. 
I think squeezing through a needle’s eye
If you are not a piece of thread is masochistic. 
But being a rich man’s good, almost everyone
Wants that.  Bread makes you fat and warm. 
Fish though generally a healthy-diety type grub
Carry a lot of mercury in their flesh.  I think being
Crucified, whatever method, would answer a lot. 
What do you think?  I guess it depends how 
There you are.  I see myself snapping the whip,
Keeping all the losers where they belong.
Truthfully, though, I feel this whatever.
What about you?  I’ll be remembered by my son’s
Son, and he’ll be remembered by his, and, well,
Could anyone ask for more?  Not this ingrate.
Imagine like if Herr Hitler had had a bigger heart.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In the Village

Today, so far, resembles yesterday.   
A few exceptions: the clouds 
Move a little faster, there's a rabbit 
In the yard gnawing the bark 
From the willow I felled
Last year but failed to gather, 
The fire's taking longer to catch, 
And I have a pain in my neck.  
Also, it's today, and practically speaking 
It's right now. I wish it were yesterday 
Again, just to keep tomorrow back.  
The last thing I need is tomorrow 
To get here.  Tomorrow means 
Yesterday is with the rest, and today too, 
Which I didn't want to lose.  I don't 
Like to lose things, especially 
My days. I remember yesterday saying 
"Today is the day." But now it’s that day 
And I should have done it yesterday.
I should never wait to do yesterday
Tomorrow because tomorrow has 
Its own things that need doing.  I don't know 
What they are because it's still today, 
Which looks exactly—notwithstanding 
Minor differences—like yesterday,
Which looks exactly like tomorrow
Before tomorrow proves me right.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Job for Godzilla

Godzilla is the only one
Who can fix it.  It’s her job
After all, she’s the one who
Wrecked it.  It’s only right

That she should put it back
The way it was, not perfect
But okay enough to live in,
Okay enough to raise kids in. 

We don’t have the time now
To make it right, we’re too
Small and contrary to get
Around to it, it’ll take years

Just to agree to memories.
And then it won’t be so much
Agreement as acquiescence
To the price of disagreement.

Godzilla is the only one left
Who can retrace her steps
And put it back like it was
Before we summoned her.